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ESPN's Chris Fowler used to sneak off to watch 'Friends' while working on the college football studio show.

By Jimmy Traina
September 20, 2019

1. I really don't want to do this. I will get no pleasure from this. It pains me to call out a recent SI Media Podcast guest who gave me a great interview, but SI pays me to be an in-depth journalist and I have to do my job.

Chris Fowler's TV taste leaves a lot to be desired.

Just Thursday, I wrote in Traina Thoughts that the Friends vs. Seinfeld debate is like comparing Timofey Mozgov to LeBron James. And now along comes Fowler with some wild takes on Friends.

The versatile ESPN broadcaster posted a video in which he told an amusing story about how he and Kirk Herbstreit would sneak off the set while doing a studio show leading into a game in the '90s on Thursday nights to watch Friends.

"We would do the show, the game would kick off and Kirk and I would go up the staircase to this attic area of the studio and watch Friends, Fowler revealed. "Now, we didn't care how good the matchup was. We didn't care what was going on the first half, We were that locked into Friends. It meant that much. I guess it's borderline unprofessional. We did turn our attention back to halftime once the show was over."

OK, great. I was totally with Fowler there. Nice story. I can totally relate to choosing a TV show over a game. Everything was good.

But then Chris went off the rails.

Not only did he say that Friends had 70 million viewers, he then dropped this doozy of a quote, "It's safe to say nothing else in TV is gonna ever have that kind of scope and enduring power."

Chris, I like you, but come back to us. For starters, Friends averaged 22 million viewers during it's run on NBC. And most important, if you're going to talk about scope and enduring power from a TV show of that era, the discusison, of course, starts and ends with Seinfeld. Not to mention several others shows that have more enduring power than Friends. And I like Friends. I was a huge fan in the '90s and watched every episode. But it wouldn't even crack any rational list of top 10 sitcoms ever.

I reached out to Fowler this morning to see if he was a Seinfeld fan during those days in the '90s. "I was a big Seinfeld fan over the years, but it was just Friends that we watched in the studio. (Hard to totally lose focus for more than a half hour! We were on the clock after all.)"

Then I hit Fowler with the hard-hitting question: Which show do you like more: Seinfeld or Friends?

Fowler's response? "Friends."

Despite this disappointing (and wrong) answer, I'm professional enough to tell you that Fowler was outstanding on the SI Media Podcast last month and you should definitely listen to the interview.

Obviously, I need to get him on again to explain to him why Seinfeld is far superior to Friends.

2. Tom Brady was like any other NFL fan Thursday night. He got fed up with the barrage of penalty flags in the first half of the Titans-Jaguars game and bailed.

The only problem for Tommy is that he's not like any other NFL fan. He's a player who has benefitted from poor officiating throughout this career. And Twitter let him know about it.

It also didn't help Tom that this piece of information came out this week.

3. I've said a million times in this column and on my podcast that FOX is going to promote the hell out of SmackDown Live, which begins airing on its network Oct. 4. Things are just about in full swing, as we saw Thursday night when FOX used its telecast of the Cubs-Cardinals game to interview WWE superstar Braun Strowman.

This did not go over well with ESPN's Keith Olbermann.

Funny, I don't recall seeing any tweets from Keith during any of the times ESPN decided to make Sunday Night Baseball all about J-Lo.

4. Just when you thought Gardner Minshew Mania was reaching a fever pitch, he drops this story on the latest episode of Pardon My Take.

5. A postgame locker room champagne celebration isn't a postgame locker room champagne celebration until an F-bomb goes out on live TV.

6. You may have heard Joe Buck and Troy Aikman reference the fact that Troy did "a podcast" this week during Thursday night's Titans-Jaguars game. That podcast would be the SI Media Podcast. Aikman had a lot to say about the NFL's officiating problem (he called it "nauseating") while also giving me the scoop on what happened with FOX higher-ups after he blasted colleague Doug Gottlieb on Twitter.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher and Google Play.

7. RANDOM YOUTUBE VIDEO OF THE DAY: I get as angry at people who think Friends is even remotely close to being on Seinfeld's level as Jerry got at Larry King the time Larry thought Seinfeld was canceled.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on iTunes, Spotify or Google Play. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.

IN CLOSING: Best bets for Sunday are Broncos +8, Colts -1.5, Chargers -3.

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